Sustainability Tips

Check out these ideas for how to live, learn and work sustainably on campus. Big or small, your actions add up—so try one of these tips today!

Energy Conservation

  • Turn off the lights. So basic—yet so effective!
  • Set your thermostat between 68-76°F.
  • Close the windows when you leave.
  • Energy Star identifies energy-efficient products and other ways to save energy—and money!
  • Check out a Kill A WattⓇ device from the U-M library to see how much energy your devices use.
  • Leave space around radiators and vents. If they are blocked, the system may run more frequently to achieve the desired temperature.
  • For U-M staff:
  • For labs:
    • Shut the sash on fume hoods when not in use.
    • Consider purchasing an efficient ultra-low temp freezer when time for replacement or setting to -70°C instead of -80°C.

Transportation

Ride the bus, ride a bike, carpool, walk—there are lots of options reduce the environmental impact of getting around. Check out U-M’s alternative transportation resources.

Waste Reduction

  • Give a little love to the first step in the time-honored saying “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” Buy in bulk to reduce packaging, bring a reusable bag, use a reusable mug, and ask yourself before making a purchase whether you really need it.
  • Know where to throw! It’s important to place items in the right bin because contamination can cause an entire batch of recycling or compost to be landfilled.
  • Make your next event zero waste.
  • Visit Property Disposition and local thrift shops or browse online marketplaces for used items.
  • For U-M staff:
  • For labs:
    • Consider using safer chemical alternatives, such as Gel Red instead of ethidium bromide for DNA research. Gel Red can safely be washed down a sink drain, whereas ethidium bromide has to be disposed of as hazardous waste (not to mention being a health hazard, especially to pregnant women).
    • Check out our reuse and recycling guide for laboratories.
  • Be familiar with regulated recycling, campus items that must be recycled such as batteries, bulbs, and U-M electronics.
  • Reduce electronic waste by using rechargeable batteries. This battery calculator can help you estimate the payback period.

Sustainable Food

  • Purchase local food at farmers markets (such as the M Farmers Markets).
  • Try Meatless Mondays to reduce your carbon impact. Better yet, choose from a wide variety of vegetarian and vegan options at campus dining halls, cafes, and markets all week long.
  • Check out our sustainable kitchen tips for sustainable options for your staff break room.
  • When ordering catering, ask about low-carbon, local, and/or in-season options. Food sourced from closer to campus produces less emissions.

Protect the Huron River Water Quality

  • Don’t put anything except water down storm drains, which carry storm water to local waterways. That means no motor oil, detergents, litter, or fertilizers.
  • Keep an eye out for fluid leaks from your car and address any that arise.
  • Pick up after your pet. Pet waste is raw sewage.
  • Report on-campus spills or dumping to DPSS.

Everything Else